Zenith Hotel by Oscar Coop-Phane
Original title – Zenith Hotel
Translator – Ros Schwartz
Source – Review copy
Back in the beginning of January I was sent a pdf of this book by the publisher I had seen it late last year in their catalogue and had thought it was one I would like .So who is Oscar Coop-Phane ,he is one of the rising stars of french literature .He has travelled round europe spent time in Berlin .This is his debut novel and won the Prix de Flore ,he also now writes a column for the french version of Vanity Fair .
don’t know why I write. It churns me up, it soils me
from inside. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m doing
this. To pass the time, perhaps. That’s it. I write like
some people do crosswords, it keeps me busy. I think
about words, style, the shapes of the letters. I feel as if
I’m doing something without getting up off my arse.
It’s not vital, it’s not therapeutic. I don’t know, I write
to keep my hands occupied, like doodling on Post-its
when you’re on the phone. I fill pages, writing one
sentence after another. It’s a pointless exercise, but it
keeps me busy. I could listen to the radio, do sudokus,
read the paper or look out of the window, but I write, I
don’t know why. I kill time. It’s a tough bastard.
I’m a pen-pushing old slag. How about that?
Nanou tells us why she writes about the men she meets .
I rarely read a book finish it and would love to read it again on the same day ,but this was the case for Zenith Hotel ,it was the first of two books I’ve had this year and the first for about two years .So you can see I can’t heap enough praise on this short novel .The book is the story of Nanou ,she is a working girls and we join her for a day in her life and see the people she is interacting with .We also get little vignettes about the men that visit this women ,in a way telling us how the wound up at her door and how they treat her .Nanou life is one of those lives you know is out there but would rather at times maybe not want to think about it .So Oscar has brought us the dark underbelly of france .Why do men visit this women and what toll has it taken on her as a person .
Victor washes. The dog watches him scrub his
naked body with a purple flannel. Baton lies with
his head on the tiled floor, soaking up the splashes
like a hairy bathmat. Victor towels himself and
gets dressed. The dog doesn’t wash himself any
more, there’s no one for him to charm now, no one
to look at, not even any puddles of piss to sniff.
Baton no longer pokes his muzzle into things,
because it died before he did.
Your body falls apart, disintegrates. And eventually
it’s unable to carry you.
Victo and his dog was the saddest vignette I felt .
Now I am quoted on the cover of this book with the quote “male flotsam and jetsam of Paris wash up on the bed of a street-walker as we glimpse their sad lives .One of the best books of 2014 .Stunning ” well now in march I hang by the best book of 2014 it still is in my opinion .What Oscar does so well her is to add flesh to characters ,we know are out there these are the men you saw in a films like Nick Broomfield fetishes ,why do these men visit Nanou ? well it is hard to put a finger on it but each man seems at his core in the little vignettes to have something missing in there lives ,love ,people ,confidence and even friends .Sad stories all but saddest is Nanou for this is just one day of her life ,you are left with a sour taste of this being some ones existence and her being caught in the endless cycle that can be a street-walkers life .All that is compressed into under 100 pages .
Have you read this book ?